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Songs on the Security of Networks
a blog by Michał "rysiek" Woźniak

Willpower, productivity and cycling

This is an ancient post, published more than 4 years ago.
As such, it might not anymore reflect the views of the author or the state of the world. It is provided as historical record.

Just read a great article on willpower, addictiveness and productivity; if you haven’t yet, do, it’s well worth a read (as is the article that inspired it).

Anyhow, I have two short conclusions from this read, one more personal, the other more general.

The personal one stems from the fact that I used to cycle each day at least 30 minutes, as I lived on the outskirts of Warsaw and that was the best means of transport (at least for me). I always thought that the single biggest gain for me in that was the physical exercise – sun or rain, wind or snow, every day at least 30 minutes of biking.

After what I’ve read a second great gain pops to my mind: Each day, I had at least 30 minutes of completely uninterrupted time with myself and my thoughts. I suddenly remembered how much was I able to think through during this time. I’ll have to make myself start cycling (or possibly frequenting a swimming pool?) again, for both reasons.

The more general conclusion has a premise: there is a continuum of types of people, between completely focused, wielding formidable willpower (and hence very productive) on one end of the spectrum, and totally disorganised, run mainly by impulses and urges (and hence less productive) on the other – and I am probably somewhere in the middle; please bear in mind that “being productive” is used here as in original text, a much wider term than just “productive at work”.

And here’s the kicker: I have a feeling that almost all of the marketing, economic and political agendas of any significant power (be it a large corporation, an important political party, etc.) are geared towards the impulse-driven part of the society, as it’s probably much easier that way. But wait, there’s more! It would seem they are actually actively working towards moving as many people as possible from the “willful, productive” part of spectrum towards “impulsive, weak-willed, consumerist” (sic!) end.

And that’s both scary and unacceptable.